Are you ready for another edition of io9's March Madness? In previous years, we've crowned the best movie, the worst movie, and the best TV show. But this year, we're going bigger. The most famous series in science fiction and fantasy will battle it out, to see which genre reigns supreme! ... As for the bracket itself, you can click on it to expand, or click here to zoom in on a really big version.
For your amusement and edification, I attach my choices for the entire tournament. To be clear, these are not the series I think will win but the ones I think should win.
Most of the choices were pretty easy. The most painful one was Terry Pratchett's Discworld series' early exit at the hands of Tolkien's/Jackson's Lord of the Rings. If Discworld had been in either the Magic and Monsters or Dystopia brackets (albeit not a good fit for the latter), it would have cruised into the Final Four.
There are some curious omissions, which are probably due to io9's preference for "orks that have proven their staying power either by developing into a huge series or by being adapted into other media." Even so, I would have opted for Heinlein's Future History series instead of Starship Troopers (I fear that decision was tainted by the execrable Paul Verhoeven film and its evil progeny). How about John Scalzi's Old Man Universe, which probably is today's hottest SF series? Or Charles Stross' wonderful Laundery Files? Or oldies but goodies like Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium series or Gordon Dickson's Dorsai books? Any of them likely would have made my Sweet Sixteen or even Elite Eight.
This modern trailer recut for "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" is just about the most awesome thing that happened on the Internet this week. Because, come on. It's not every day that someone goes and makes "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" seem like a high-budget medieval Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster.
“We are watching capitalism destroy itself right now,” [Whedon] told the audience.
He added that America is “turning into Tsarist Russia” and that “we’re creating a country of serfs.”
Whedon was raised on the Upper Westside neighborhood of Manhattan in the 1970s, an area associated with left-leaning intellectuals. He said he was raised by people who thought socialism was a ''beautiful concept."
Socialism remains a taboo word in American politics, as Republicans congressmen raise the specter of the Cold War. They refer to many Obama administration initatives as socialist, and the same goes for most laws that advocate increasing spending on social welfare programs. They also refer to the President as a socialist, though this and many of their other claims misuse the term.
This evidently frustrates Whedon ....
It is, of course, the classic limousine liberalism that pervades my hometown of Hollywood. Indeed, most of my immediate neighbors are Mercedes-driving putative social democrats.
But why? At a Hollywood social event, I once had a lefty in the entertainment business tell me that it was because liberals are creative and conservatives aren't. But surely that can't be right. After all, conservative capitalists have created more jobs, goods, and useful services of far greater social value than any of the ephemera that flows out of movie studios.
No, I think my late friend Larry Ribstein had it right. In his classic article Wall Street and Vine: Hollywood's View of Business, Larry argued that filmmakers are down on capitalism because they resent "capitalists' constraints on their artistic vision."
In other words, Whedon's socialism comes not from any real thought or intellectual inquiry (as anyone who has suffered through one of his films can attest). Instead, it's just because he's pissed off that the suits have final cut.
The Highlander films (except the especially execrable Higlander 2) and the live action TV show havealways been among my guilty cultural pleasures. Ryan Reynolds will doubtless make me feel even guiltier about loving the franchise. Cool.
The freedom-loving rebels against the fascist empire.
From the empire striking back, to a ragtag group of serene space-western characters, to a guy who has a fetish for the letter V, this has to be the most popular storyline. I know that those who trade security for freedom end up losing both, and movies show that very well. The problem is, before you get to the point where you lose both, it's still a trade-off. And the term trade-off means that both concepts have value. To the rebels, the fascists who run their world have gone too far. What if there was a movie where, from some perspectives at least, they hadn't?
Isn't there someone on the Death Star who just wants to keep order in a massive system of planets, all filled with Cantinas in which people get shot regularly? Maybe this guy doesn't understand why people keep trying to blow up his workplace. What about the Alliance, which fought a war to try to organize and supply a sprawling galaxy full of colony planets, and is rightly annoyed by people randomly stealing from them? And while it's clear that the intolerant government that V railed against supported monsters, they also kept their country together when others were falling apart. How would a person working in that government react to a guy who takes hostages, shoots cops, and blows up buildings? The rebels want freedom, which sounds good in pop songs, but is that always the best idea? A look at the other side, for once, might make a good movie.
Action heroines are rare creatures. The earliest were female versions of pre-existing male heros, like Wonder Woman, BatGirl and SuperGirl. Some more recent heroines have their roots in fantasy or sci-fi, like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Selene from Underworld, or Alice from Resident Evil. But while there are plenty of realistic male heroes who run, jump and fight without being cartoony or existing in a vampire realm - think Jason Bourne, James Bond or Ethan Hunt - there are very [few] female counterparts.
Maybe so. But I think there have been some awfully good ones. Off the top of my head and in no particular order: Sarah Walker. Samantha Caine. The Bride. Mrs. Smith. Evelyn Salt. Nikita. Erica Bain. Sydney Bristow. Grace Hanadarko. Mary Shannon. Pretty much every character Michelle Yeoh's played. Ditto re Pam Grier. All wonderful action characters at least as "realistic" as Jason Bourne or James Bond (and most of them could probably kick Biond's butt).
And what's wrong with SF heroines? The iconic Sarah Connor. The great, great Ellen Ripley. Emma (be still my heart) Peel. Xena. Trinity. Starbuck (reimagined). Abby Maitland. Dana Scully.
Helen and I watched one of my favorite movies, Ian McKellen's resetting of Shakespeare's Richard III ina fascist version of 1930s England. She loved it, as did I. Highly recommended.
Amazon says: "McKellen is the best thing about the movie, his mesmerizing portrayal of freakish despotism and poisoned desire a thing to behold." I totally agree. He's so brilliant that he outshines the glorious Son of York.